Book List

2011 Best of Fiction: The Complete List

  • FICTION

    LAST MAN IN TOWER

    SEPT. 1, 2011

FICTION

LAST MAN IN TOWER

by Aravind Adiga

Adiga nails the culture of corruption. How exciting to watch a writer come into his own, surpassing the achievement of his... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    UNTIL THE DAWN'S LIGHT

    OCT. 1, 2011

FICTION

UNTIL THE DAWN'S LIGHT

by Aharon Appelfeld

A beautiful and affecting novel, Tolstoyan in its compassion for humanity. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

    OCT. 11, 2011

FICTION

THE SENSE OF AN ENDING

by Julian Barnes

A knockout. What at first seems like a polite meditation on childhood and memory leaves the reader asking difficult... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU

    APRIL 5, 2011

FICTION

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WAS YOU

by Elizabeth Berg

Berg’s masterful portraits and keen insight makes for a memorable read. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    NOW YOU SEE ME

    JUNE 7, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

NOW YOU SEE ME

by S.J. Bolton

Bolton (Blood Harvest, 2010, etc.) provides excruciating tension and much else. Romantics can drool over Jonesbury’s... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    BACK OF BEYOND

    AUG. 2, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

BACK OF BEYOND

by C.J. Box

Once again, Box provides the complete suspense package: unobtrusively slick detection, buckets of surprises and mounting... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY

    APRIL 1, 2011

FICTION

OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY

by Justin Cartwright

Tubal and Co. is a small, ancient private bank in London, and its longtime chief, Sir Harry Trevelyan-Tubal, has drafted his... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    GUILT BY ASSOCIATION

    APRIL 20, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

GUILT BY ASSOCIATION

by Marcia Clark

A 15-year-old girl is raped. The Latino boy she’d been tutoring is the sole suspect. She’s rich, the daughter of Frank... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE GRIEF OF OTHERS

    SEPT. 8, 2011

FICTION

THE GRIEF OF OTHERS

by Leah Hager Cohen

With gorgeous prose, Cohen skillfully takes us from past to present and back again as she explores the ramifications of... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    OPEN CITY

    FEB. 8, 2011

FICTION

OPEN CITY

by Teju Cole

Determining whether the novel's main character is hero, villain or somewhere in between might require the reader to start... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    RED ON RED

    APRIL 5, 2011

  • FICTION

    GALORE

    MARCH 29, 2011

FICTION

GALORE

by Michael Crummey

A lively, eccentric, mythmaking novel inspired by 200 years of Canadian history. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE TRINITY SIX

    MARCH 1, 2011

  • FICTION

    MISTERIOSO

    JULY 1, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

MISTERIOSO

by Arne Dahl & translated by Tiina Nunnally

Thoughtfully haunting and sometimes beautifully written, the first of Hjelm’s cases to be translated into English is likely... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    VERY BAD MEN

    JULY 1, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

VERY BAD MEN

by Harry Dolan

The rare crime novel with something for everyone who reads crime fiction. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    WHEN THE SAINTS

    NOV. 1, 2011

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

WHEN THE SAINTS

by Dave Duncan

An authoritative reworking of history, combining a splendid welter of religious and political intrigues with Duncan's... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE PRAGUE CEMETERY

    NOV. 8, 2011

FICTION

THE PRAGUE CEMETERY

by Umberto Eco

What does it all add up to? An indictment of the old Europe, for one thing, and a perplexing, multilayered,... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    A CUPBOARD FULL OF COATS

    JUNE 1, 2011

  • FICTION

    THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ

    OCT. 3, 2011

FICTION

THE FORGOTTEN WALTZ

by Anne Enright

In rueful, witty, unpredictable and compassionate prose, Enright gives expression to subtle, affecting shades of human... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    TROPHY

    MAY 1, 2011

FICTION

TROPHY

by Michael Griffith

A quirky, imaginative, dazzling black comedy. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE MAGICIAN KING

    AUG. 9, 2011

FICTION

THE MAGICIAN KING

by Lev Grossman

Fabulous fantasy spiked with bitter adult wisdom—not to be missed. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    FAITH

    MAY 10, 2011

FICTION

FAITH

by Jennifer Haigh

Haigh deals with complex moral issues in subtle ways, and her narrative is beautifully, sometimes achingly poignant. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE ART OF FIELDING

    SEPT. 7, 2011

FICTION

THE ART OF FIELDING

by Chad Harbach

A promising debut—and one guaranteed to draw attention, for it commanded an unusually big advance and will likely be pushed... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    BUZZ ALDRIN, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN ALL THE CONFUSION?

    JUNE 7, 2011

FICTION

BUZZ ALDRIN, WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU IN ALL THE CONFUSION?

by Johan Harstad & translated by Deborah Dawkin

A modern saga of rocketships, ice floes and dreams of the Caribbean, and great fun to read. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE WOODCUTTER

    AUG. 1, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

THE WOODCUTTER

by Reginald Hill

Near the end, a character refers to the fate of “the dreadful, drab English.” There’s nothing drab about this dark and... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    BLOODMONEY

    JUNE 1, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

BLOODMONEY

by David Ignatius

A terrific, believable novel about the intersection of politics, ethics and finance. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE MIGHTY WALZER

    MARCH 29, 2011

FICTION

THE MIGHTY WALZER

by Howard Jacobson

A delight from start to finish, and a note-perfect evocation of the gray 1950s. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE SISTERS

    NOV. 1, 2011

FICTION

THE SISTERS

by Nancy Jensen

Encompassing the lives of women in the 20th century, this sprawling saga is tender and satisfying, with a heartbreaking end. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    11/22/63

    NOV. 1, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

11/22/63

by Stephen King

Though his scenarios aren’t always plausible in strictest terms, King’s imagination, as always, yields a most satisfying... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    PICTURES OF YOU

    JAN. 25, 2011

FICTION

PICTURES OF YOU

by Caroline Leavitt

Heartfelt (everyone cries), deft and highly readable fiction. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    DRAWING CONCLUSIONS

    APRIL 1, 2011

FICTION

DRAWING CONCLUSIONS

by Donna Leon

As languid in its movement as a gondola ride. Yet none of Brunetti’s earlier cases (About Face, 2009, etc.) is as... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    PARTITIONS

    JUNE 21, 2011

FICTION

PARTITIONS

by Amit Majmudar

Written with piercing beauty, alive with moral passion and sorrowful insight—a rueful masterpiece. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    RIZZO'S FIRE

    MARCH 1, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

RIZZO'S FIRE

by Lou Manfredo

Bar none, Joe Rizzo is the most authentic cop in contemporary crime fiction. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE TROUBLED MAN

    MARCH 29, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

THE TROUBLED MAN

by Henning Mankell & translated by Laurie Thompson

Though shivering in the winter of his discontent, Wallander will grip the reader hard. Flawed and occasionally exasperating,... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE PARIS WIFE

    MARCH 8, 2011

FICTION

THE PARIS WIFE

by Paula McLain

A pleasure to read—and a pleasure to see Hadley Richardson presented in a sympathetic light. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    TRACKERS

    SEPT. 1, 2011

FICTION

TRACKERS

by Deon Meyer

A first-rate thriller; a touch slow to get going, but hard to apply the brakes to once it gets rolling. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    EMBASSYTOWN

    MAY 17, 2011

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

EMBASSYTOWN

by China Miéville

A major intellectual achievement that, despite all difficulties, persuades and enthralls. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    STEALING MONA LISA

    AUG. 2, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

STEALING MONA LISA

by Carson Morton

Like La Joconde, Carson’s debut novel is set in an elegant frame—a newspaper reporter wrests the amazing story from a dying... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    1Q84

    OCT. 25, 2011

FICTION

1Q84

by Haruki Murakami & translated by Jay Rubin & Philip Gabriel

Orwellian dystopia, sci-fi, the modern world (terrorism, drugs, apathy, pop novels)—all blend in this dreamlike, strange and... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE SNOWMAN

    MAY 1, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

THE SNOWMAN

by Jo Nesbø and translated by Don Bartlett

The smart, suspenseful cat-and-mouse game will remind some readers of Erik Skjoldbjærg’s 1997 film Insomnia—and that’s high... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    STATE OF WONDER

    JUNE 7, 2011

FICTION

STATE OF WONDER

by Ann Patchett

Thrilling, disturbing and moving in equal measures—even better than Patchett’s breakthrough Bel Canto (2001). Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE LEFTOVERS

    AUG. 30, 2011

FICTION

THE LEFTOVERS

by Tom Perrotta

There’s even a happy ending of sorts, as characters adapt and keep going, fortified by the knowledge that they “were more... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE INFORMANT

    MAY 5, 2011

FICTION

THE INFORMANT

by Thomas Perry

Beneath the sky-high body count, the twisty plot is powered by Perry’s relentless focus on the question of where the next... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE TRAGEDY OF ARTHUR

    APRIL 19, 2011

FICTION

THE TRAGEDY OF ARTHUR

by Arthur Phillips

A literary lark, at times too labored, that offers an amusing gloss on the publishing industry’s recent problems with fakes. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    SNUFF

    OCT. 11, 2011

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

SNUFF

by Terry Pratchett

A treat no fan of Discworld—and there are boatloads of them—will want to miss. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE QUANTUM THIEF

    MAY 1, 2011

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

THE QUANTUM THIEF

by Hannu Rajaniemi

Spectacularly and convincingly inventive, assured and wholly spellbinding: one of the most impressive debuts in years. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE COMPLAINTS

    MARCH 7, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

THE COMPLAINTS

by Ian Rankin

Will readers miss Rankin’s long-running protagonist, John Rebus (Exit Music, 2008, etc.)? Don’t see why they should. Bonus:... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    AMERICAN MASCULINE

    JUNE 21, 2011

FICTION

AMERICAN MASCULINE

by Shann Ray

Think Hemingway or Jim Harrison, and know that Ray's collection is the deserving winner of the Bread Loaf Writers'... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    A MOMENT IN THE SUN

    MAY 1, 2011

FICTION

A MOMENT IN THE SUN

by John Sayles

A long time in coming, with an ending that's one of the most memorable in recent literature. A superb novel, as grand in its... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    ECHOES OF THE DEAD

    APRIL 1, 2011

FICTION

ECHOES OF THE DEAD

by Sally Spencer

Shifting seamlessly between past and present versions of the case, Spencer produces a tour de force readers won’t quickly... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    REAMDE

    SEPT. 20, 2011

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

REAMDE

by Neal Stephenson

Who’ll prevail? We don’t know till the very end, thanks to Stephenson’s knife-sharp skills as a storyteller. An intriguing... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    LUCIFER'S TEARS

    MARCH 17, 2011

FICTION

LUCIFER'S TEARS

by James Thompson

Nazi collaboration, government cover-ups, kinky sex, a baby daughter waiting impatiently to be born and a vigilante-minded... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME

    MAY 1, 2011

FICTION

THE YEAR WE LEFT HOME

by Jean Thompson

A masterful wide-angle portrait of an Iowa family over three decades. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    IN THIS LIGHT

    MAY 24, 2011

FICTION

IN THIS LIGHT

by Melanie Rae Thon

Bluntly powerful but deeply nuanced stories from a unique voice in American fiction. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE EMPTY FAMILY

    JAN. 1, 2011

  • FICTION

    THE KING OF DIAMONDS

    MARCH 15, 2011

MYSTERY & DETECTIVE

THE KING OF DIAMONDS

by Simon Tolkien

A thick web of family tensions and psychological dysfunction with a whodunit chaser, Tolkien's third novel (The Inheritance,... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    WE THE ANIMALS

    SEPT. 2, 2011

FICTION

WE THE ANIMALS

by Justin Torres

Upon finishing, readers might be tempted to start again, not wanting to let it go. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE SECRET HISTORY OF COSTAGUANA

    JUNE 9, 2011

FICTION

THE SECRET HISTORY OF COSTAGUANA

by Juan Gabriel Vásquez

To read this novel is to enter a Borgesian rabbit hole—it’s a fiction that purports to tell the truth obscured by another... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE SUBMISSION

    AUG. 9, 2011

FICTION

THE SUBMISSION

by Amy Waldman

A stellar debut. Waldman’s book reflects a much-needed understanding of American paranoia in the post-9/11 world. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    CLOSE YOUR EYES

    JULY 26, 2011

FICTION

CLOSE YOUR EYES

by Amanda Eyre Ward

A captivating story of loss, forgiveness and ultimate redemption. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE RICHEST HILL ON EARTH

    DEC. 1, 2011

FICTION

THE RICHEST HILL ON EARTH

by Richard S. Wheeler

Passionate, intelligently written, thoroughly entertaining historical fiction. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE FAMILY FANG

    AUG. 9, 2011

FICTION

THE FAMILY FANG

by Kevin Wilson

A fantastic first novel that asks if the kids are alright, finding answers in the most unexpected places. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR

    AUG. 2, 2011

THRILLER & SUSPENSE

THE GENTLEMEN'S HOUR

by Don Winslow

A former private investigator with an encyclopedic knowledge of the seamier side of Southern California, Winslow... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    ANNABEL

    JAN. 1, 2011

FICTION

ANNABEL

by Kathleen Winter

A compelling, gracefully written novel about mixed gender that sheds insight as surely as it rejects sensationalism. This... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    THE ROCK HOLE

    JUNE 1, 2011

FICTION

THE ROCK HOLE

by Reavis Z. Wortham

Not just scary but funny too, as Wortham nails time and place in a sure-handed, captivating way. There’s a lot of good stuff... Full review >

FULL REVIEW >
  • FICTION

    MOONDOGS

    MARCH 15, 2011

FICTION

MOONDOGS

by Alexander Yates

An unusual and unusually involving first novel with strong characters and nifty supernatural effects. Full review >

FULL REVIEW >

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